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Sat, 2011-01-22 13:26Farron Cousins
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Common Cause Asks DOJ to Investigate Possible Conflict of Interest With Scalia and Thomas

The public advocacy group Common Cause sent a letter to the Justice Department today to investigate whether or not Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the infamous Citizens’ United ruling last year. This week marks the one year anniversary of the landmark 5-4 court ruling that gave corporations the green light to flood political campaigns with as much cash as they choose.

But could the case be overturned due to impartiality on behalf of a few Justices? Common Cause hopes so. President and CEO of Common Cause, Bob Edgar, released the following statement today on the possible conflict of interest:

“Common Cause, which I’m privileged to lead, has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the landmark Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case last year because they may have attended secret retreats where lobbying and political strategies were developed by some of the biggest players in the 2010 elections.

A year ago this week, Scalia and Thomas supplied critical votes in the 5-4 Citizens United decision that was of particular importance to two politically active billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch. Charles Koch, president of Koch Industries, the nation’s second largest privately-held firm, and brother David have spent tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on conservative political activism. The Koch-sponsored group Americans for Prosperity has been critical to development of the Tea Party; it promised last year to spend $45 million on the Congressional midterm elections.”

Thu, 2011-01-20 08:31Farron Cousins
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Is The Energy Industry Writing Policy Again?

Politico is reporting that Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and other members of his staff recently met in a closed door meeting with lobbyists from the dirty energy industry. As reported earlier, Upton is the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has taken an adversarial stand against the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also attending the meeting was Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and perhaps the most well-known and loudest global warming deniers in Congress.

According to the report from Politico:

“The roster of those attending the invitation-only gathering is being kept under lock and key, though it is believed to include the American Petroleum Institute, National Mining Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others.”

Wed, 2011-01-19 18:19Farron Cousins
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New Congress Wastes No Time Undoing Climate Progress

We all knew that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives wasn’t going to be friendly to the environment, but none of us expected the fight to start so soon. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich), the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced today that his committee will be taking on the EPA with gusto.

In a document making its rounds among Republican lawmakers, Upton claims that the EPA has put a “chokehold” on businesses by regulating their emissions and pollution. The Hill obtained a copy of the document titled “Key Issues before the Committee on Energy and Commerce 112th Congress [PDF], which contains the following:

“We believe it critical that the Obama administration ‘stop’ imposing its new global warming regulatory regime, which will undermine economic growth and U.S. competitiveness for no significant benefit…The EPA is regulating too much too fast without fully analyzing the feasibility and economic and job impacts of the new rules.”

Wed, 2011-01-19 11:38Farron Cousins
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South Headed South On Environmental Issues

Photo Credit:  http://www.southernenvironment.org

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) recently released their list of the top 10 most endangered environmental areas in the nation, and the results do not bode well for the South. Nine out of the top ten areas in the nation facing severe environmental disaster are located in the Southern United States (assuming you count Tennessee and Virginia as “south.”)

Many of the areas are coastal or other forms of wetlands, and leading the list is Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Still plagued with tar balls washing up from the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil disaster last year, the SELC warns that things along the Alabama coast could become much worse in the future. In addition to the current oil coming ashore, the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are littered with oil rigs, many of which are in dire condition and could cause another catastrophic blowout dwarfing the Deepwater Horizon.

Fri, 2011-01-14 08:38Farron Cousins
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What Was Missing From the Oil Spill Commission's Report

Earlier this week, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released their final report on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. For those of us who had been following the story, there was nothing new in the report – BP, Halliburton, and Transocean cut corners on safety measures; They received warnings from crew that there were numerous problems, and that the whole disaster should make us take a good hard look at offshore drilling. I’m a little sensitive about this subject because I am a lifelong Gulf Coast resident. While most people only read about the disaster or saw clips on the news, I was living through it, watching tar balls roll up on the beaches I’ve played on since I was an infant.

The report does point some fingers, but the pointing ends with companies like BP, Halliburton, and Transocean. That is the equivalent of blaming Ford if a drunk driver gets into a wreck. In that situation, you have a driver at fault, a bartender who didn’t take away someone’s keys – a collective group making poor decisions. In the Gulf oil disaster, the driver was Dick Cheney, and the bartender was Chris Oynes. Yet strangely enough, neither one of those people were mentioned once in the Oil Spill Commission’s 382-page report.

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